Winckelmann's favourite

The Apollo from the Belvedere as a cameo in enamelled gold, Classicism c. 1810

It was a sensation when, at the end of the 15th century, an ancient marble statue of the god Apollo was recovered from Villa Nero in Anzio, Italy: As beautiful and as perfectly preserved as few works of antiquity, the statue, based on a Greek bronze model by Leochares, is considered an outstanding example of classical sculpture. Initially in the Gonzaga collection, Giuliano della Rovere, later Pope Julius II, soon secured the work. From 1511 it was exhibited in the courtyard of the Belvedere, a summer villa in the Vatican to the north of St Peter's, later connected to the papal palace complex. Here the Apollo still resides today as part of the collection of the Vatican Museums. For the founding father of art history Johann Joachim Winckelmann, the Apollo of Belvedere was "the highest ideal of art among all works of antiquity." His description of the Apollo contributed to the sculpture's influence on the aesthetic of classicism in particular. Thus Goethe wrote to Herder in the summer of 1771, completely moved by his own contemplation of the sculpture: "My whole self is shaken, you can guess that, man, and it still fibrillates far too much for my pen to draw steadily. Apollo of Belvedere, why dost thou show thyself in thy nakedness, that we should be ashamed of ours?" The brooch here presents the Apollo of Belvedere Court as a gem carving of the early 19th century. The profile portrait of the young man in classical antique garb stands out in off-white against the darker background. His gaze is to the right, his leonine hair is adorned with a ribbon and a large hair bow is depicted as a distinguishing feature of this specific Belvedere depiction of Apollo. The god was probably cut from conch shell at the Bay of Naples. The skilful cut is particularly vivid and rich in detail. The yellow gold setting is no less artistically crafted. Elaborate enamelling in black and white lend a rich appearance to the setting, which is shaped like a picture frame. The gem was probably once a souvenir from a Grand Tour to Italy. Created in the years around 1810, the brooch is a wonderful testimony to the classicism's longing for antiquity. It is a beautifully proportioned rendering of Apollo in an elaborate setting, and as the patron god of the arts, no collection of cameos and gems should be without him. Who wouldn't want to be in the company of the most beautiful man of classical antiquity?

For centuries, the possession of antique cameos and gems was an aspiration of almost all great collections, from the Green Vault in Dresden to the treasury of Rudolf II and large private collections such as that of Baron Stosch in later times. The 18th and 19th centuries produced numerous large imprint collections of ancient Roman and Greek seal stones and gems, which were able to represent the ancient imagery of glyptic almost in its entirety. Due to the great travels undertaken by young nobles and wealthy citizens during this period, the use of gems and cameos changed in the early 19th century to larger forms of jewelry, which were classic and sought-after souvenirs from Italy, cut in stone, shell, or Vesuvius lava.

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We want you to be 100% satisfied! That’s why we examine, describe and photograph all our jewellery with the utmost care.

If for any reason you are still not satisfied, contact us and we will find a mutual solution immediately. Regardless, you can return any item within 30 days and we will refund you the full purchase price.

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